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Manila, Cebu furniture exporters sign joint promo

CEBU, Philippines – To help keep the struggling furniture industry on its feet, furniture manufacturers from Manila and Cebu, through their respective support organizations, have inked a joint promotional campaign to attract buyers from all over the world.         

The Manila-based Chamber of Furniture Industry in the Philippines (CFIP) and the Cebu Furniture Industries Foundation Inc. (CFIF) are now joining hands to promote the two international furniture and furnishing exhibitions next year, this the first time that it is being done by industry players in recent years.

The two international furniture exhibitions in the Philippines, "Manila Now" and "Cebu Next" will pool their resources to invite foreign buyers, such as buyers' directory sharing, as well as financial support.

"The furniture export in Manila is drying up. I don't know with Cebu. We are no longer the 'darlings' of the export industry now, it already moved to BPO and talent-based services," said Eduardo Zuluaga, chairman of "Manila Now 2011."

Zuluaga admitted that the industry players have decided to put their previous conflicts aside, and moved to save the life of the industry, as it now on its critical condition.

"When times are bad, we have no choice but to unite," said Zuluaga referring on the earlier conflict between the CFIF and CFIP on the issue where to hold a one international furniture show whether in Cebu or in Manila.

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The issue has not been settled and both industry groups decided to hold their own shows (one in Cebu and one in Manila) as part of the Asian circuit of furniture and furnishing exhibition shows.

Instead for wallowing the unproductive rift, Zuluaga said CFIP and CFIF are now sharing their resources to stimulate interest from foreign buyers, while furniture exports have continue to weaken.

"We are talking on areas where we can cooperate," Zuluaga said adding that one obvious problem is how to entice foreign buyers to come and "bring their wallets" with them.

Somehow, some buyers do come to the show, but their presence does not really translate to actual sales or even eventual orders.

Zuluaga, together with other officials from the CFIP was here in Cebu to formally launch the "Manila Now 2011" exhibition to be held at the SMX Convention Center in Metro Manila this coming March 3 to 6, 2011.

Going back to its original concept of having the "back-to-back" furniture shows as Cebu Next 2011 is also scheduled right after the "Manila Now" show.

According to Zuluaga, CFIP will share its 17 thousand directories of foreign buyers to be invited to the show, to add up to the 23 thousand contacts on the data-base of CFIF.

The Manila Now 2011 organizers led by CFIP allocated P2.6 million budget for promotional campaigns in both local and foreign markets, CFIF on the other hand still has announce its total promotional budget for next year's exhibition in Cebu.

On the other hand, Cebu Next 2011 chairman Charles Estreegan earlier said that the next year's Cebu International Furniture and Furnishing Exhibition of Cebu Next is still exploring possibilities to get support from local and national government units to commit either short-term of long term support of the annual show.

The Manila Now exhibition will highlight Filipino world-class designers and manufacturers of some of the finest furniture pieces that will corroborate innovative designs using local raw material like the classic rattan and bamboo.

Cebu Next 2011, on the other hand still to be held at the Waterfront Cebu City Hotel and Casino, will be introducing a number of 'exciting" products, as a result of the players' effort to re-invent the exhibition, showcasing products that would reinforce Cebu's bid to be known as the "design destination in Asia." (FREEMAN)

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